Jaguar Land Rover must pay £19,152.01 in damages to a worker of Afro-Caribbean decent. A tribunal found that the man’s colleagues and managers had racially abused him while at work. The man, Paul Hoyte lost his job last year, after not working for nearly two years due to poor health.
Damages awarded for racial harassment
The panel heard that colleagues had called Mr Hoyte ‘Abo’, a racist slang word derived from the word Aboriginal. He also claimed they referred to him as the ‘black guy with a big afro’ at the Solihull car plant. The judgment ruled that it didn’t matter whether the workers had meant the word as a deliberate racial insult. Using that word constitutes harassment and significantly impugned Mr Hoyte’s dignity. However, it said ‘black guy with a big afro’, was a blunt description and not a breach of the Equalities Act.
Claim for unfair dismissal rejected
But the tribunal panel rejected Mr Hoyte’s claim for unfair dismissal. It believed the employer had dismissed Mr Hoyte fairly, due to his capability and not because of race or disabilities. Mr Hoyte hadn’t worked for nearly two years due to his ill health. The panel concluded that as he showed no prospect of returning to work, the employer could reasonably terminate his employment.
Demeaning process for toilet breaks
Mr Hoyte suffered from depression, anxiety and irritable bowel syndrome (IBS). Due to the IBS, he needed regular toilet breaks. However, he had to ask managers’ permission each time he needed to leave his workstation. The tribunal did agree that this was intrusive to his reasonable privacy and dignity. Given the nature of his medical condition, the panel considered the rule to be embarrassing and demeaning, particularly as it did not affect non-disabled workers.
Failure to acknowledge employee sensitivities
The tribunal concluded that Jaguar Land Rover is not an institutionally racist employer, or that its’ working environment enables racism. But it did believe that the employer had failed to acknowledge the appropriate sensitivities of its workers.
An article by HR Solutions, providers of practical HR advice